The word “dinosaur” often refers to people or things that are out-of-step or on the verge of extinction. That definitely doesn’t apply to The Dinosaur Farm, one of the country’s top-rated independent toy and bookstores. The store has become known throughout Southern California and celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.
Tucked away in small-town South Pasadena, The Dinosaur Farm was founded by husband-and-wife owners David Plenn, a musician/songwriter; and artist and museum store consultant Shelley Stephens when their son was a toddler and they couldn’t find a source for interesting and unique toys and books close to home.
The theme for the store was inspired by the many dinosaur-obsessed young visitors that Stephens encountered at the Natural History Museum where she was working at the time, and by Plenn’s own childhood interest in dinosaurs. (“And then, when my son was three,” Plenn observed, “he broke it to me in a frank son-to-father talk that he was all about space and the planets, not dinosaurs.”)
Over the years, the Dinosaur Farm has received accolades from Forbes in 2000 (“One of 10 Best Toy Stores in the US”), BuzzFeed in 2016 (one of “17 Toy Stores That Will Change Your Kids’ Lives,” a list of toy stores all over the world), and USA Today, which included The Dinosaur Farm on its 2018 list of “10 Best Independent Toy Stores in America.”
All of these positive reviews point out that while the Dinosaur Room is unrivaled for its offering of dinosaur-themed stock, the rest of the store has, in BuzzFeed’s words, a very “well-curated” selection of other educational and just-for-fun toys and books for kids as well. There’s a “Pink & Purple” room (with plushies, Calico Critters, costumes, and craft kits), a science section, a game section, a wall of infant toys, and a book section catering to all ages and a broad spectrum of interests. Indeed, everything in The Dinosaur Farm is selected with an eye towards its motto: “Not Your Ordinary Toy Store!”
Some customers who were moms shopping for their own children when the store opened are now shopping there for their grandchildren — and several of the store’s staff members first visited the store as babies in strollers.
“I’m starting to feel like my nickname, Dinosaur Dave, these days,” Plenn said, laughing, adding that he keeps track of new species of dinosaurs that have been discovered since the store opened. (Note: The Dinosaur Farm’s online store features dinosaur-themed merchandise only.)
People can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what age, gender, price range, and occasion the gifts are for, we can put something together and email them back with the items, prices, etc. Or we can arrange for in-person shopping with a sales person dedicated to helping you pick out things.
The Dinosaur Farm is located at 1510 Mission St., South Pasadena, 91030. For more information: dinosaurfarm.com, (626) 441-2767.